Category Archives: Human Rights

Quetion asked by the history

I am attending 4 days’ workshop on the Chilean military coup. The purpose of this workshop is to create collective and inter-generational knowledge for the future. The members consist of 70% of victims, 30 % of teens whose relatives were (are) victims, plus me. Listening to their real stories on torture and the loved ones, I cannot help thinking about this.

Please take a time on this question:
What are human rights?

First of all, education is believed to be a human right and I have no doubt on that. Also, literacy was frequently claimed to be a human right on an occasion international literacy day on this Sunday (Sep 8th).

What else is a human right and what is not? Who decide that? Can we measure it?
According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,
“Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.”

If it’s a fundamental right for every human being, why has it been (is it being) violated in many countries? There are histories of torture in more than 100 countries. Wars and crimes never stop.

Some article caught my interest on this issue:
Why is literacy Human rights?

Access to internet is human right?”.
It tells about a new project on internet access in which Facebook founder said that “Access to internet is human right”

Measuring human rights fulfillment
This article argues that without an evidence-base for assessing performance, states can escape from their human rights obligations by claiming inadequate resources.

Why do people donate to victims of natural disasters but not of wars?
This one addresses how people see natural disasters and man-maid disaster (war)

I think that unless we have a collective understanding, knowledge, and history of human right at global and local levels, we cannot have a full commitment to human rights – rights for the future we want.

Again, what are human rights for you?

40 years later (3)

Today’s topic is (3) Current educational challenges in Chile and the future direction, with which three series of “40 years later” ends.

With regard to educational challenges, Chile is a good example because for the last 5 years, the students have been protesting at a national level. Their demands are basically “better quality of education” and “free higher education”.

This has its origin in its inequality. Latin America has the highest inequality rates in the world (the gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged). Within this region, Chile has one of the highest rates in regard.

(desigualdad among OECD participant countries, 2010)
For the last couple of decades, the Chilean economy has increased rapidly. A big reason for this was believed to be the Neoliberalism emerged during the dictatorship and privatization of education.

Chilean Education is well-known for its strong focus on private education, specifically “charter school” (public and subsidized schools). For example, public education consists of only 37% and the rest is private education (most of it is charter school)
According to the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC), the evaluation of schools, teachers and students are progressing so that the education system will improve. However, many of them have to leave the education system because of their low scores on the evaluation (MINEDUC are closing schools, firing teachers, and excluding students).

The challenge for the future to improve the education system in a inclusive manner in order to lower high rates of inequality is to maintain balance between economic growth while listening to the voices of minorities and react to them. The irony is that most of those who manage public policy are on elites, the advantaged. That is, to change this situation, they have to take into account the other side of society, the disadvantaged.
The Chilean case asks us if education has to be market-based. While it should not be, education is turning into be business in many countries.

Possibly, Michel Bachelet will be next Chilean president given that she won more than 70 % of vote at the preliminary election. She was tortured during the dictatorship and is a former head of UN Women, therefore supposedly she is generous towards the minorities from the perspective of her experience.

The series of “40 years later” ends with this, although there are still many things to resolve the matter.

Chile, a country which has been through socialsm, dicatatorship, neoliberalism, privatization of education, social inequality and national protests, is no doubt a interesting country to pursue.

Anyway, surrounded by the Andes and the sea, Chile has cheep and great wine.

40 years later (2)

I was out of Chile for 2 weeks. This is my excuse for not having updated the series (2) and (3).

(1). Dictatorship and Education system
(2). End of dictatorship and the paths that Chile has taken
(3). Current educational challenges and future direction

Today’s topic is about ② divided into three parts: military’s preparation, the steps of the Ministry of Education and people’s memory on the dictatorship.

●Military’s preparation
Although Chilean dictatorship lasted for 17 years (1973-1990), there is no rain that never ceases. Towards the end of it, the military group started preparing elite students for taking over the faith of dictatorship. The students were invited to the prestigious military schools where they were basically manipulated to believe that the military-led government is not a dictatorship but a true democracy. The good example is that students were able to see Pinochet–the dictator at that time–in person. This experience made them believe that “the fact that students can see the presidents in person shows democratic paths of the school.

●Steps of the Ministry of Education
Since the era was not so long ago, the memory on the dictatorship still remains in teachers, parents and policy makers (the military government made a radical reform in education)
In 1996 (after the end of the dictatorship) the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) included recent history in the curriculum of history education.
In 2006, however, the MINEDUC made a regulation in that teacher have to teach two sides(pro and anti- Pinochet) and NEVER take either side. Although it sounds fair, it remains controversial given that it might deprive teachers of their “freedom of thought, opinion and expression.

●People’s memory on the dictatorship
There are several types of memory on the dictatorship: those who believe that it was the right direction, those who think it was a chaos and those who did(do) not want to get involved. Therefore, up to date, this issue is not a topic that can often be discussed. That is, people are not willing to talk about the issue.

(Pro Pinochet)

(Anti Pinochet)

How to manage what happened in the past is always difficult.
The Oscar nominated movie “NO” shows when the dictatorship ended.

Next topic is about ③Current educational challenges and future direction.

40 years later (1)

It has been 40 years since the military’s coup happened in Chile.

Since then, Chile has seen many changes: long dictatorship and its end, rapid economic growth and inequality, the advent of charter schools (privatization of education) and demands on quality education through students’ protest, to name a few.
It has been 4 month since I started working at UNESCO Chile.

Now that I learned some parts of Chilean history and education system that surrounds it, I would like to mention what happened over the last 40 years in Chile, dividing it into 3 parts:
(1). Dictatorship and Education system
(2). End of dictatorship and the paths that Chile has taken
(3). Current educational challenges and future direction

The first part (1) is about the during the dictatorship.
In summary, on SEPTEMBER 11th, 1973 (9.11!!), the military group attacked the socialist government, and the dictatorship lasted for 17 years. there were (ARE) many kidnapped, disappeared and assassinated.

Personally there I would like to focus on two artistic products related to Chilean education during the era:
“Machuca” a movie which deals with integration of poor kids into a prestigious school.
“Arpilleras”: tapestries with political message, made by women’s group

First of all, the movie “Machuca” in which a kid from low income family makes friend with a kid from high income family in an exclusive school, shows the typical inequality of Chilean society (Latin America) and struggle that people had during the dictatorship.
I believe that this film can be a good ice break element for inclusive education.
The review about the film (NYTimes)

Second, the “Arpillera” is the artistic political message created through informal education by Chilean women whose husbands and families disappeared. This innovative way of art succeeded in grabbing international attention on human rights violations and the dictatorship. The workshops empowered women’s group by uniting them together, and it also allowed them to earn some money to survive in the harsh environment.
For example (Roberta Bacic, 2009):
“No a la tortura (No to torture)” explicitly addresses the tough situation of the dictatorship

“Dónde están (Where are they)” seeks for their missing loved ones.

“Queremos democracia (We want democracy)” demands their political message with a beautiful tapestry. (In front of them, there is a military car, but they are courageous enough to face with them)

I think the art is one of the most effective way to address the on-going problems at national and international levels.
Next time, I will pick up some issues related to Chilean education after dictatorship.

16th Birthday

On my 16th birthday, I remember being at a high school belongin to boxing club and taking some courses on which I didn’t even focus on, which I totally took for granted as a daily routine and I didn’t even think that high school education had any value.

On 12 July 2013, the 16th birthday of Malala Yousafzai, an education activist, gave a wonderful speech on the importance of education at the UN Youth Assembly, where more than 500 young leaders from around the world convened to accelerate the goal of getting all children, especially girls, in school and learning by 2015.

Malala became a public figure when she was shot by the Taliban while travelling to school last year in Pakistan — targeted because of her committed campaigning for the right of all girls to an education. Flown to the United Kingdom to recover, she is now back at school and continues to advocate for every child’s right to education.
Her 17 minutes’ speech has moved everyone who took the importance of education seriously

In particular, a part around 5:20 was impressing.
“(After being shot) Nothing changed in my life, expect this. Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born.”
The following video “Dear Malala” containing messages of those inspired by Malala was made by the Plan International.

I would have taken education more seriously had I seen this video when I was in my 16th. At least I can show or tell this story to current/next generation.

The past and present

The debate to treat the past event, especially the one in which several countries are involved has been historically difficult to solve.

While one says yes, another says no, then who can solve and how?
Rios Mont, who was a leader of militaria – former dictator – in Guatemala 30 years ago was condemned as guilty, the decision that hit both the country and the Latin American region where historically have had problems with dictators.

As a person who investigated the issue of human rights in Latin America, this decision made ​​me think that the situation of dealing with the past in the region would change.
However, a month later, this decision was canceled, that is, the case must resume from the beginning. I could not stop thinking about the victims …
Some say business groups and military veterans are involved.
The link of the NYTimes regarding this issue is here

In Democracy Now, there is a video in regard. “9.11 in Guatemala”
The link of the video is here

The tariler of “Granito” — a documentary about the issue which I recommend.

The link on this subject is here

Is there any solution to the historical issues like this?
Also, I am interested in the discussion between Japan and South Korea on “comfort women (Korean prostitute group in Japan)” after the mayor of Osaka (where I am from) said that “the comfort women system was necessary ”

While there is no need to stick to the past, we have to learn from the past to avoid the same failure in the future. It is indeed difficult.